Here are the most famous UK serial killers of all time
Ahh, the British: a most civilized and proper people.
Behind a guise of elegance and gentility often lies a quite odious underbelly. Even the place many consider to be the origin of all things refined has its dark side. The United Kingdom as a whole has its share of serial killers along with the rest of the world.
A few of the serial killers who hail from this conglomerate of nations are even some of the most famous murderers in the world. Tales of their insidious crimes have traveled the globe and spread fascination in the minds of true crime lovers everywhere.
Let’s go through some of the United Kingdom’s most infamous serial killers.
What better symbol of propriety and sophistication is there than a butler? Archibald Hall committed his murderous crimes after taking on the career of butler, thus disgracing this most respectable profession and gaining the nickname “Killer Butler.”
Hall started his criminal life quite early. He was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1924 and became a serial thief at the age of fifteen. Hall went to jail for the first time after trying to sell in London jewelry he had stolen in Scotland. Clever guy that he was, Hall spent his jail time studying the mannerisms of the aristocracy and refining his Scottish accent. It was after he was released that he started landing jobs at a butler.
Hall used his career as a butler to steal from the wealthy for his own enrichment. He occasionally landed in jail for thievery, but that didn’t stop him from thinking up a new scheme.
Hall committed his first murder when an acquaintance from jail threatened to tell his employer about the things Hall had stolen from them. Hall did attempt to smooth things over, but when the acquaintance (David Wright) wouldn’t relent, Hall shot him and buried him next to a stream.
Hall eventually found an accomplice in a man named Michael Kitto after cooking up a plan to rob a different employer blind. When the wife of the couple they planned to steal from overheard their plans, Kitto smothered her with a pillow. Hall and Kitto then sedated her husband and beat him to death with shovels after driving up to Scotland to bury them.
Apparently a housekeeper named Coggle had been in cahoots with looting the leftovers of this murder. When Coggle refused to stop drawing attention to herself by doing things like wearing the dead mistress’s expensive coats, Hall and Kitto killed her with a poker.
Hall and Kitto’s last victim was a pedophile named Donald. They tricked Donald into thinking they were rehearsing the steps of a robbery they’d do together. In truth, Hall hated Donald for personal reasons and wanted him dead. Once Hall and Kitto had Donald tied up, they smothered him with chloroform and drowned him in a bath.
Hall and Kitto ended up being caught while trying to dispose of Donald’s body. All because of a silly thing like superstition. The car they planned on using had three nines in a row, which they considered being unlucky. When a suspicious innkeeper called the car’s license plate into the police, the authorities found that the license didn’t match its registration, thus giving them a reason to search the car.
Both Hall and Kitto were sentenced to life imprisonment in Scotland. Hall died from a stroke in prison, but not before publishing his autobiography entitled A Perfect Gentleman.
Jack the Ripper
Jack the Ripper may be one of the most infamous murderers of all time and he was never even caught. This unidentified serial killer typically targeted prostitutes in the London slums. He would slash their throats, remove their internal organs and mutilate their genitals.
Jack the Ripper is believed to have claimed the lives of at least five victims in the 1880s. Because of the unique nature of these victims’ wounds, the victims were easily linked together, although some believe there to be more victims. Newspapers sensationalized letters that were purported to have been written by The Ripper to the media. Authorities are unsure as to how many of the letters, if any, were written by The Ripper themself.
Mary Ann Cotton
Not only was Mary Ann Cotton a woman, a rare phenomenon among serial killers, but she made it into the history books as Britain’s first serial killer. Cotton lived in the 1800s and her method of choice was arsenic poisoning. She was quite prolific. Mary Ann Cotton killed a total of 21 victims before she was caught, and her modas operandi was to marry and kill for insurance money.
Cotton married a man named William in 1852, and then seven of their children suspiciously died of “gastric fever.” In 1865, William ended up dying from the same “illness”, but somehow suspicion had not yet been fully aroused. Cotton collected the insurance payout from William’s death and then married another man who died from the very same causes within the next year.
Cotton continued this pattern, moving on to killing her own mother, a lover, and eventually killing a fourth husband’s child. It was this last child that was Cotton’s undoing. Her fourth husband Frederick had his son’s body exhumed and medical examiners found traces of arsenic. Cotton was then finally pinned for the murders she had committed. Only two out of Cotton’s thirteen children survived their mother.
Can’t get enough of serial killers? Check out the 2017 movie My Friend Dahmer, which tells the story of how a shy teen becomes a voracious serial killer.